Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 09, 2004

Police do better to wait before using force

I read with interest about the memo in which a top police official questioned the judgment that resulted in the death of a 78-year-old individual ("Tactics of officers faulted in city killing," Jan. 6).

The one time that a police command officer really earns his or her money is in any situation where he or she must make a decision that can result in the death of someone. To have the authority to tell a team of police or police sharpshooters that they have the green light to use deadly force, if necessary, is an awesome thing - not to be taken lightly.

In a situation in which the subject presents an ongoing danger to the public, or the officers, immediate action is certainly warranted.

However, in a situation in which the subject has been contained and effectively neutralized - such as the one in question - time is the best friend of the police. If the individual is not holding hostages or in a position to threaten the safety of those not in his immediate area, a "wait him out" attitude is best.

Police can be relieved and replaced on site, containing the perpetrator until he or she either gives up or alternatives can be found.

Admittedly, after an extended siege, the costs of committing police manpower do become a factor. But if a human life can be saved while protecting the public and our police, isn't that the wisest of choices?

In some instances, particularly where the subject has actually done no harm, police can avoid a potentially violent escalation just by leaving.

As I read the text of his memo, I thought Maj. Michael Andrew was correct in his observations. Time was on the side of the police.

Robert L. Di Stefano

Abingdon

The writer is a retired major in the Baltimore Police Department.

Drive time is no time for checking e-mail

I couldn't believe the article "E-mail device has mayor wired" (Jan. 5). Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the city's health commissioner, seemed to be bragging about his ability to use his BlackBerry e-mail device while operating his vehicle. He was even quoted as saying, "If I ever get killed in a car crash, it's because I've been on the BlackBerry while driving."

Unbelievable. How can Dr. Beilenson possibly operate his vehicle in a safe manner while one-handedly sending e-mails on his electronic gadget? As Baltimore's health commissioner, he should be more concerned about auto safety than trying to one-up the mayor by driving while BlackBerrying.

If it's not safe to be using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle, I'm sure typing e-mail messages on a hand-held device is several degrees more dangerous.

Perhaps if Dr. Beilenson and other members of the city government were concerned more about driver safety and less about being in instant communication with others, city streets would be safer for other drivers and pedestrians.

Joseph M. Koper

Hunt Valley

Shame on Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the city's health commissioner, and his comments about his wireless BlackBerry e-mail device.

Let's hope innocent drivers or even pedestrians are nowhere near him when he's busy using this device while he's driving.

Baltimore expects him to help keep this city a safe and healthy place to live. He can continue to do this - by turning off his BlackBerry while driving his car.

Jenny Kauffman

Timonium

Turning lawmakers into gaming addicts?

Some people think people may become addicted to gambling. But you can be positively sure that gambling is addictive to state legislatures.

Witness the growth in the number of lottery games since their introduction in Maryland. The reason - to increase the state's revenue.

You can be sure that once slots are allowed at racetracks or at another few venues, it won't be long before they will appear at every bar and convenience store in the state. The reason - to increase the state's revenue.

Let's not start this insidious activity in our state. Our legislators should take a look just across the border to West Virginia for an object lesson.

J. Andrew Weaver

Linthicum

Controlling spending is the better choice

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wants slots at racetracks but does not want a tax increase. House Speaker Michael E. Busch doesn't want slots at racetracks but wants a tax increase.

Well, here's a novel idea. Why don't they get together with the General Assembly and trim the budget and control spending? Then we would not need slots or a tax increase.

Kurt S. Willem

Hydes

Condemned to future of concrete and tires

Reading of the exemplary journey of students residing in Columbia who attend St. Paul's School in Brooklandville ("St. Paul's bus route a `blessing' for parents in Baltimore suburbs," Dec. 30), it strikes me as ironic that private students of significant means (who are most likely our leaders of tomorrow) are being shuttled around at great expense.

I could not help thinking that if the regional rail system plan is ever implemented, such students and all other residents of the metropolitan area could be more elegantly and cheaply transported.

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